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Coronavirus: Belfast GPs want 'complete lockdown' to halt spread


Dr George O'Neill

Dr George O'Neill

Dr George O'Neill

A group of leading GPs in Belfast have called for a “complete lockdown” to manage the coronavirus pandemic.

The doctors, who chair Belfast’s four GP Federations, say they are “dismayed at the actions of many members of the public”.

In an open letter to the community, the doctors called on political leaders to adopt an immediate lockdown.

The letter states: “Please hear and act on our heartfelt plea and move to adopt a ‘complete lockdown’ as we have seen in other countries, at the earliest opportunity. Time is of the essence.”

The doctors, including Dr George O’Neill who is joint chair of the West Belfast GP Federation, said they were watching the alarming effects of the illness in other countries including Italy, Spain and China.

“It would be better to be extremely cautious and wrong than wrong and incautious,” said Dr O’Neill.

“The estimated time from exposure to null infectivity is estimated to be two-to-three weeks and it follows that if a ‘complete lockdown’ of the public was enacted, the virus could be, if not stopped in its tracks, at least significantly slowed up.

“Time is of the essence in this disease, with doubling of cases on average every five days if no measures are taken.

“We acknowledge the current advice government has given on social distancing but, in our view, this is not stringent enough.

“The fact that so many people can carry the virus with extremely limited effect to themselves means that whilst these individuals continue to move through the community, albeit in a limited fashion, they are still spreading the virus.

“Our concern is that in the next few weeks numbers will escalate significantly and anything which can be done to reduce the spread of the virus in Belfast communities, and indeed across Northern Ireland, should be adopted.”

Belfast Telegraph